Vaping Injuries top 1,000 as FDA updates warning

(Oct. 7, 2019) As vaping injuries now top 1,000, with 18 deaths reported, the FDA issued an updated warning last week. The agency has said that most of the 1,080 reported injuries have come from THC-containing vaping products, but some medical professionals estimate that 10-30 percent of the reported injuries have come from people who were not vaping THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, is believed to be the principal psychoactive ingredient, the one thought to give cannabis users a “high.”

Vaping Injury Symptoms, Diagnosis

Vaping injury symptoms typically include shortness of breath, pain upon deep breathing, and coughing. A Mayo Clinic doctor has said that the lungs of injured vapers look as if they’ve been exposed to mustard gas which poisoned soldiers in WWI. Other medical examiners say the lungs look as if they’ve been exposed to toxic fumes from an industrial accident.

Related: JUUL E-Cigarette Lawsuit

Most Vaping Injuries among Younger People

The average age of the 18 deceased vapers is 49.5 years, said Dr. Henry Niman on the Jeff Rense radio show which aired Oct. 5. The deaths are concentrated in older patients, said Dr. Niman, with the youngest of the 18 fatalities reported as 27, the oldest as 70. The ages of the injured vapers are concentrated at the lower end of the age spectrum. The injured range from teenagers to people in their late 60s, with 67 percent of the injured being 18-35 years old, and 84 percent being under age 35.

While the FDA has reported that deaths are mostly from illicit THC-vaping products, Dr. Niman says that at least two vapers killed in Oregon bought their e-cigarette products at a legal dispensary. (THC is legal in Oregon.) Dr. Niman has also said that vapers have been injured who did not use a THC-containing product.

Injury Increase caused by Intense Heating?

The doctor believes that the alarming uptick in vaping injuries has come as a result of a new JUUL patent issued in 2017. JUUL officials discussed adjusting the temperature of the propylene glycol which is typically what is done to maximize the effects of nicotine. JUUL said that it would be preferable to heat the e-cigarette to 180-190 degrees Celcius (374 degrees Fahrenheit), and to heat the vegetable glycerin or (VG) up to to 280-290 degrees C (554 degrees Fahrenheit).  The new JUUL poduct hit the market at the end of 2017. It quickly became increasingly popular as enormous JUUL marketing campaigns blanketed the country, expertly hooking kids and thousands of unwitting others on nicotine.

Though reported lung injury cases went back to Spring 2019, there was a big jump in cases during June and July this year.  Dr. Niman believes that increase in injuries has something to do with JUUL’s temperature-adjustment changes that began in 2017 with a newl-patented product. Perhaps that incredible heat alone could damage lungs, but there is also the question of unknown ingredients which JUUL will not reveal until it is forced to do so by the FDA or by legal discovery in JUUL e-cigarette lawsuits. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are already beginning to pursue litigation against the company, for causing lung injuries as well as for encouraging chemical addiction.

FDA Chief Warns against THC Vapes

Amid the growing vaping crisis, on Oct. 4 the acting commissioner of the U.S. FDA warned the public to avoid using THC-containing vaping products. Acting FDA Commissioner Norman E. Sharpless said in a statement that the FDA’s updated alert also warns consumers who choose to use vaping products to not modify or add substances such as THC or other oils to products purchased in stores. The agency also cautioned against purchasing any vaping products through illicit channels.

“At this time, the FDA does not have enough data to identify the cause, or causes, of the lung injuries in these cases,” Mr. Sharpless said in the press release. “While no one compound or ingredient has emerged as a singular culprit, we do know that THC is present in most of the samples being tested. Because of this, the agency believes it is prudent to stop using vaping products that contain THC or that have had any substances added to them, including those purchased from retail establishments.”

Mr. Sharpless said those who continue using vaping products should monitor for symptoms and promptly seek medical attention if they have health concerns. He also repeated a prior warning that no children or pregnant women should use any vaping product. Those who experience unexpected tobacco or vaping-related health or product issues should submit detailed reports to the FDA through its online safety reporting portal, he said.

Vaping Injuries top 1,000 as FDA updates warning

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in an Oct. 3 telephone press conference that the 18 deaths confirmed and reported to the CDC have come from 15 states. More deaths  are under investigation. Dr. Schuchat said vaping injury cases have been reported from 48 states and the Virgin Islands. In addition, 275 cases have been identified since late September 2019, including new patients and updated diagnoses on existing patients.

She also repeated previous agency statements that the FDA has not identified any specific substance or product that is linked to all the cases.

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E-Cigarette Kills Texas Man

(Sept. 28, 2019) E-cigarettes may be promoted as a safe alternative to real cigarette smoking, but e-cigarettes can kill a person just as effectively as real ones can. Earlier this year, a 24-year-old Texas man died after a brand new vaping pen device exploded in his face. The cause of death was confirmed by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

William Brown of Fort Worth had just left a vaporizing store in Keller when it happened. His grandmother, Alice Brown, told a local reporter that William had just bought the device and was using it for the first time in her car. After the explosion, she said William crawled toward the back of the car and collapsed on the pavement. He died at John Peter Smith Hospital two days later.

Mr. Brown’s cause of death was listed by the medical examiner as penetrating trauma from an exploding vaporizer pen. The report says the explosion severed his left carotid artery. Ms. Brown told a reporter that JPS doctors said William suffered a stroke inside the car and eventually suffered a brain bleed.

William was not a regular vaping pen smoker, Brown said. An asthma sufferer, he had been told a certain vape pen could help with asthma symptoms. She said she didn’t know if what he had heard was true.

On Jan. 27, 2019, William left her house intending to stop at his bank. But first, he stopped at the vape store and bought the exploding pen.

Vape Battery Exploded

An investigator in the case told Ms. Brown the battery had caused the explosion. She searched through her blood-splattered car for pieces of the exploded vape pen. She said she found a battery showing its serial number.

“That’s the important part,” she told Fort Worth Star Telegram reporter Amanda McCoy. “That’s what the investigator said he needed. (I) hope it stops someone from [smoking electronic cigarettes]. I don’t know how many more people will have to die.”

Other Vaping injuries, deaths

William Brown is thought to be at least the second person in the country killed by an exploding e-cigarette.

In May 2018, Florida authorities investigated the death of 38-year-old Tallmadge D’Elia. He suffered multiple injuries after his e-cigarette device exploded in his face. A medical examiner’s report listed his cause of death as “projectile wound of the head.” Mr. D’Elia also suffered burns over 80 percent of his body.

According to FEMA, some 195 incidents of explosions and fires caused by e-cigarettes were reported between January 2009 and December 2016. Injuries occurred in 133 of those cases, with 38 severe injuries. No deaths were reported to FEMA.

2,000+ E-Cigarette Explosions

A more recent study, done in part by Dennis Thombs, dean of the School of Public Health at UNT Health Science Center, showed that e-cigarette injuries are widely underreported across the country. Researchers found that some 2,035 e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries resulted in hospital emergency room visits from 2015 to 2017.

That number was more than 40 times higher than the number of injuries reported by the FDA from 2009 to 2015. The study also found a lack of a surveillance system to track those injuries.

Some of the more serious injuries include burns and loss of eyes or teeth. The majority of burn injuries occurred on the upper leg.Other e-cigarette injuries include strokes, a mysterious lung ailment, and nicotine addiction.

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Juul stops advertising, fires CEO

(Sept. 26, 2019) Juul will stop advertising, and the company plans to fire its CEO, according to an Associated Press report yesterday. The announcement comes as leading government health officials say underage vaping has reached epidemic levels.

Juul Labs announced Sept. 25, 2019 that it will no longer promote its e-cigarettes in print, digital, or television advertisements.  Juul also said it will replace its CEO. The actions come in response to a growing, nationwide backlash against vaping. At least 10 young people are reported to have died from the “convenient” practice, and more than 500 have sought professional medical help for vaping-related injuries.  Vapers have reported strokes, damaged lungs, and other serious injuries, in addition to the life-crippling problems of nicotine addiction enabled by e-cigarettes.

Juul Lobbying won’t challenge Trump’s Proposed Ban

Juul – the country’s most profitable e-cigarette company – also said yesterday that it would not lobby against a sweeping ban on vaping flavors proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier in September 2019.

New Juul CEO Ex-Marlboro Man

Juul announced that CEO Kevin Burns will be replaced by a senior executive from Marlboro cigarette-maker Atria, which paid $13 billion in December 2018 for a 35% stake in Juul. Altria Group Inc. said K.C. Crosthwaite, who served as Altria’s “chief growth officer,” will become JUUL’s new CEO.

The changes come amid growing public concern over vaping. An angry backlash has triggered calls for tighter federal- and state-restrictions on the nicotine-sucking habit. Earlier this week, the state of Massachusetts proposed banning all vaping products for four months.

Juul and hundreds of smaller e-cigarette companies are now under fire nationwide. The companies, with their slick advertising campaigns targeting underage people – much like the sly Joe Camel campaign did a while ago – are being blamed for two public health problems linked to vaping.  One is a mysterious lung illness that has afflicted hundreds of people so far. The second is an alarming increase in teenagers’ becoming nicotine junkies through the too-convenient use of e-cigarettes.

Hundreds of Vaping Injuries as ¼ of H.S. Students Vape

Public health officials are investigating hundreds of cases of the mysterious breathing ailment linked with vaping. They have not yet identified any one product or ingredient as causing the problem.  Meanwhile, underage vaping has reached epidemic levels, according to government health officials. Recent research shows that more than 1 in 4 high school students used e-cigarettes in the last month.

Cigarette Company Merger Aborts, Wal-mart blinks

Most likely as a result of the volatility of the current vaping situation, tobacco giants Altria and Philip Morris International said they were calling off discussions of a merger. The merger abortion comes exactly one month after the two had announced their plans to merge.

In other bad news for e-cigarette makers, Walmart has just announced that it plans to cease its e-cigarette sales.

Juul Rules E-Cigarette Market

Juul moved to the top of the multi-billion-dollar e-cigarette market by combining slick marketing campaigns with high-nicotine pods and sweet dessert and fruity flavors. The San Francisco-based company now controls 70% of the U.S. e-cigarette market.

Juul has tried to curtail a crackdown on its products since 2018 by taking several voluntary steps. Juul ceased selling several flavors in retail stores and shut down its social media presence. But the company failed to correct its flagging public image fast enough.  Parents, politicians, and public health advocates have continued to push for a broader crackdown against e-cigarette makers.

Juul now faces several investigations from Congress, from several federal agencies, and from state attorneys general.

Juul Lawsuit Filings

Juul also faces a growing list of lawsuits from young people injured by the company’s e-cigarettes. Plaintiffs ‘s lawyers have noted the problem and are vowing to take action to take the company to task. Lawsuits focus on Juul’s failure to warn users of the dangers of nicotine addiction, and failure to warn to warn users of the health dangers that e-cigarettes pose.

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